Relæ in the Summer

Relæ is not a common restaurant, it’s a place that challenges traditional concepts and challenges you, the diner. If you’re in Copenhagen and looking for a highly innovative and creative restaurant, which is not haut, then Relæ is the place to go!

Christian F. Puglisi, with a history from noma and elBulli and famous for his gastronomic talent, opened restaurant Relæ with Kim Rossen, also former noma, in August 2010. According to it’s website, Relæ is:

A creative kitchen free from the cultural heritage pushed upon the traditional michelin-star driven restaurant and with the possibility to keep free of being put in one of the usual boxes. Fine-dining, brasserie, bistro.

The focus is on quality, creativity and curiosity. I like that.

Before the launch of the restaurant, I followed it’s progress on Christian’s blog. He shared thoughts on the decor of the place, how to organise the kitchen, the table design, and all the challenges etc. the guys faced while working towards their target. This made me really curios. Christian’s dedication intrigued me and my expectations were therefore pretty high the first time I visited the restaurant.

I have been to Relæ three times now, and the photos in this post are from my first dinner on 2nd September 2010.

As you can see, the style of the restaurant is light and simple and highly influenced by the cool Nordic design.

Olive oil bottles

Entrance to the kitchen

Each table has a neat little drawer underneath containing a napkin and cutlery enough for the entire meal. A really cool detail, and it surprises me that I haven’t seen before.

Anyways, back to the food…

We got seated at the bar counter. There are about eight seats altogether at two different angles of the kitchen. I could observe everything that went on in the kitchen – like if I were a supervisor. Great 🙂

Christian Puglisi and the staff.

I went all in for food and wine. First I opted for the snack and then ordered the carnivore’s menu, but with two additional courses of the vegetarian menu. And cheese. Of course.

Fennel and baby cucumber with bagna cauda – crispy and delicious

Excellent homemade bread with olive oil to dip in

Poached celeriac, pickled seaweed, taggiasche olive

The poached celeriac, pickled seaweed, taggiasche olive dish was fine, delicate and fresh flavoured in the non-salted sense. It composed a taste-picture like nothing I had ever tried before. Very surprising, very new to me – I liked it a lot.

Pickled mackerel with cauliflower and lemon

2009 Granite Domaine l’Ecu, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Loire

Then followed pickled mackerel which was the highlight of the evening. Again I experienced flavours in a new combination. The quality of the fish was stunning and it was so tender that it almost melted on my tongue. The lemon hidden under the mackerel twisted the dish into a new dimension.

Fried carrots, crushed blackcurrants and seaweed

2009 l’Uva Arboisiana, Domaine de La Tournelle, Arbois, Jura

The carrot dish was the most daring and challenging one. The sweet carrot blended with the salty seaweed and the intense but fruity berries. Each mouthful tasted differently in a interesting way. It was the dish I liked the least.

Breast and heart of chicken, cabbage and white currant (I believe)

NV Prety (2007) Alexandre Jouveaux, Macôn, Bourgogne

The main course of the carnivore’s menu provided a very nice Danish chicken, breast and heart with crispy skin and accompanied by cabbage and a green sauce of some kind. The chicken heart was the best I’ve ever had, delicate in taste. Delighting and fulfilling.

Various types of wild mushrooms with burnt shallots poached egg and mustard

The main course of the vegetarian menu was fantastic. I’m a sucker for mushrooms so I was in heaven and really enjoyed the intense and rich flavours all united by the runny egg yolk. Really yummy!

Tuber Aestivum Witt

Cheese with truffles

Fresh cheese of cow milk as an excuse of eating a whole lot of Umbrian truffles.

Raspberries, rape, vinegar and condensed milk

2009 Rosé d’Un Jour, La Ferme de La Sansonniere, Anjou, Loire

The dessert concluded the meal in a great way with it’s creaminess, fruit and a fine balance between sweetness and acidity.

On a general note and based on my three visits, the selection of wine for the pairings are special and challenging like the food. Needless to say the wines always matched the specialness of the food, but may not come to the liking of everybody. However, I value the courage in serving these wines and opening my eyes to what goes on in the world.

There is so much talent, will and inspiring cutting-edge gastronomy at Relæ, and I feel proud that we have a place like that in Copenhagen that challenges me and expands my horizon.

Kim & Christian, thank you!

7 Responses to “Relæ in the Summer”

  • Looks really interesting and tasty. It is just that the portions look really, really small… I mean: for example the mushroom main course seems more like an amuse bouche to me. Don’t you leave there hungry?

  • First of all, very sorry for the tardy reply!! (Have been in BCN and unfortunately suffered from food poison, imagine that).

    Aaron, yes!
    Krister, I think you’re right.
    En Foodie, thank you.
    Michael, agree. Simple reason why I write in English and not Danish: More people read English 😉 – also I thought it would be a nice way to challenge myself.
    Luxeat, Good question and you’re right, Relæ is very similar to noma. Apart from the less fancy ambiance, the double seating and the low price, then I’d say that Relæ is less complex in the way that each dish (seem to) comprise fewer ingredients. Although I have eaten truffles and oysters at Relæ I’d say that it’s also less lux products, less fish and seafood than noma.

    Thank you all very much for your comments!
    Stay tuned for news about my Barcelona trip… 🙂

  • How would you compare this restaurant to Noma? It looks a lot like Noma to me..

  • Really interested to read your thoughts on this very idiosyncratic restaurant. When I ate there it was such a roller coaster of great, inspirational dishes – such as the mackerel – but also less successful elements. There was one dish in particular – a burned onion – which I and my dining companion just couldn’t finish. Paradoxically, I thought this was brilliant. I love a chef who really challenges me with their creativity. I eat out so much, I am in danger of having a very jaded palate, but places like this – and, on a much grander scale, el bulli, where I was lucky enough to eat last week (what a terrible name drop!) – make me feel like a new eater again.

    Incidentally, is there a reason you don’t write in Danish, just out of interest?

  • Its time to make another trip to beautiful Copenhagen!

    I love these kind of restaurants when focus is on food/quality with good price, and not only about white tablecloths and being fancy.

    Thansk for a great post, as always!

  • I’m pretty sure the green purè/sauce that came with the chicken is a chervil-purè! Lovely licorice-scented stuff…

  • I really love their chosen focus on wines here (biodynamic, natural, plenty from Jura…). It’s a lot like the place I work!

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